Steps of Faith

4  people crossing the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska
                                         Crossing the Kahiltna Glacier, the Alaska Range

Cross the glacier,
And probe the surface ahead
With a pole.

Reach below,
And feel for hidden holes,
Filled with emptiness.

It’s a profound place
Of majestic vistas and open spaces.

Crisscrossed by mysterious cracks of darkness
Known as crevasses.
Which lie in wait–
Hoping to swallow you up,
And drink you into,
Their endless world of ice and cold.

Some are open for all the world to see.
Others are hidden under a thin shield of snow
And the sea you walk,
Is constantly changing.

The shape of each crevasse,
And where they are,
At any given moment in time,
May never be known.
But can be better understood.

Feel the edges underneath,
Where the breaches end,
And the solid glacier extends.

And follow the path of most resistance.

If you do,
The going is slow-
Circuitous and wobbly.

But perhaps you won’t fall in,
And will get where you’re going.

Audio Version:

                                                                             Crossing a wide open glacier

 

The Mountaintop

A Colorado Mountaintop

Finally on the summit,
The top’s beneath my feet.
For a moment I rest upon the throne,
Where the mountain is my seat.

I gaze into my surroundings.
Distances of every kind,
Add to the puzzle,
And overwhelm my mind.

I see the route that led me here,
And the places I could go.
For an instant, the world is at my doorstep,
And possibility stirs below.

The “what might be” almost overwhelms,
As “could” fills up my mind.
With thoughts of hope and treasures,
And riches of every kind.

Then a new plan comes to life,
And it’s time to head below.
I’m excited by what awaits,
And the places I may go.

Continue reading “The Mountaintop”

The Joy of Riding Uphill

 

two mountain bikers riding up a dirt road in Bolivia
A long uphill in Bolivia

Ride the momentum,
To the top.
Since it’s down from there,
No need to stop.

Spin the pedals,
Think going faster,
Picture circles,
Then ride on past her.

Keep looking at,
The crest ahead.
Smile, relax,
And show no dread.

Breathe loud and proud,
From the gut.
Don’t hide your breath,
Or try to keep your mouth shut.

Loosen your grip,
And relax your neck,
Stay on the trail,
Avoid a wreck.

Don’t look back,
But think instead,
About what you’ve passed,
And the trail ahead.

Then suddenly you’re there,
And all the up’s behind.
That’s when you can sit back and cruise,
Because there’s no more grind.

Remember that
The climbs are fun.
Cause when they end,
That game’s been won.

Continue reading “The Joy of Riding Uphill”

The Heartbeat

 

Distant rope team crossing the Kahiltna Glacier
Crossing the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska

Touch the ground with both your feet.
Feel the rhythm calmly beat.
Even through the rock and grass,
A heartbeat faintly rumbles.

Persistent pulsing
Soft, but lively.
Listen closely,
Answer wisely.

There are times it talks with words of thunder,
Howling winds, or crashing wonder.
But it’s mostly through peaceful silent breaths
That it tells its awesome tale.

Let it pull you with its rope,
And fill you up with hope.
Though you may not know the words,
It will magnify your scope.

Hear the music with your eyes,
See the clouds across the skies.
Bask in rays of winter sunshine,
And watch as waves approach the shoreline.

It is…

Star-filled nights and crispy mornings,
Tornado funnels without warnings.
Rolling dunes of glassy sand,
Forgotten places beyond man’s hand.

Gentle streams and roaring rivers,
Monstrous cliffs that give you shivers.
Fields of tundra filled with flowers,
Afternoons consumed with showers.

Rock towers covered with Bighorn Sheep,
Canyon walls so very steep.
Ocean trenches mighty deep,
Sights and sounds that make you weep.

Mountain crags and endless deserts,
Places thriving on the outskirts.
Caves reaching ever inward,
Jungles vast and still unhindered.

So many chapters in the story,
Sometimes gloom, but always glory.
So, touch the ground beneath your feet,
And feel the rhythm calmly beat.

Audio Version:

Fisherman standing on a rock in the middle of a mountain lake

Bonking (also known as Metabolic Acidosis)

 

Mountain biking in Colorado
Mountain biking in the Tarryall Mountains

Ryan had never bonked before, at least in the metabolic shock/ overexertion sense of the word. When he started to bumble around and lose more and more of his edge, I knew that something was up and figured that’s what had happened. Not realizing what was going on, he kept on trying to mountain bike further up the Colorado Trail, although with diminishing returns. The big patches of snow that remained on the trail, even though it was June, were probably a good thing since they ultimately turned us all around. His disrupted mental and physical state likely made the retreat more palatable to the 13-year-old, since he wasn’t one to be prone to turn around before his goal was reached.

Continue reading “Bonking (also known as Metabolic Acidosis)”

Mired in the Mud

Backpackers crossing a creek
Crossing a creek

Backpacking down the trail.
I come to a creek,
And look for a crossing.
It’s a dry one I seek.

Suddenly I’m stopped,
Mired in the mud.
A boot gets stuck,
And I fall with a thud.

I feel my body,
And nothing seems hurt.
I decide to get up,
And wipe off the dirt.

Except…

The dirt that covers my hands and legs,
Is gooey, wet, and awful sticky.
And to clean it off now I realize,
Will be a task that’s mighty tricky.

So, I wade into the stream,
Where the water is wet.
Wash off the mess,
And loudly scream.

Now that I’m clean,
But thoroughly soaked.
I continue across,
My dry crossing revoked.

I clamber out of the water,
On the other side.
Drenched to the hilt.
And I begin to slide.

The weight of the backpack,
Pulls me back.
Toward the water,
And I begin to totter.

Once again I fall,
Onto my back this time.
My pack’s submerged,
But without the grime.

My stuff’s all soaked,
My elbow aches.
Getting up is hard,
And my body shakes.

Finally, I’m up,
And proceed once more.
This time careful,
As I reach the shore.

Then, it’s out of the water,
Up onto the bank.
This time it’s easy,
I have two fails to thank.

Audio Version:

backpackers on the trail
Backpacking

The Mountain Bike Race

A muddy mountain bike racer

The race is on.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

Reach the forest first,
Gotta make them chase.
Hide the pain,
That’s on my face.

Take the inside lines,
Make passing tight,
No time for crashes,
Show no fright.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

Push the pace,
Stay in the lead.
Heart is pounding,
Keep up my speed.

I cannot crack.
Must maintain edge.
See big root,
And watch for the ledge.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

It’s okay to breathe loudly.
Ride the rut.
Must miss the tree,
Can’t feel my butt.

Getting thirsty,
And hungry, too.
Now, I creep,
Before, I flew.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

I hate to ride,
I’m sure I do.
These times of pain,
Are surely through.

But then,

I cross the finish line,
And the race is done.
I love my bike,
I had so much fun.

Audio Version:

Rider in a mountain bike race in Moab

The Incessant Wind

2 people standing on a rock and looking out at the mountains
Watching the Wind

Turn and face the wind,
And feel the voice,
Touch your skin.

Close your eyes,
And drink it in.
To your past,
You are akin.

An unknown something,
Makes you stir.
What’s behind you,
Is a blur.

Some people, paths, and places,
Are familiar yet unknown.
You see no one with you on your journey,
Yet you never feel alone.

Yesterday is always there,
Standing quietly by your side.
Forever it is with you,
As your mentor and your guide.

Whether it slaps you in the face,
Or nudges at your back.
The wind is your friend,
And helps you down the track.

No matter if it roars,
Or sings a lullaby,
It always blows around you,
And will never say goodbye.

So, rejoice that it’s there.
Know the power of your yore.
Seize the moments of your day,
And treasure times that came before.

Descending into a valley in Bolivia.

Wilderness

A photograph of a mountain lake reflecting the surrounding mountains

The wilderness welcomes with whispers and wind,
Vast deserts, huge mountains,
And forests unthinned.

A place where rainstorms, blizzards, and droughts,
Coexist with the fog,
The clear skies, and mist.

It beckons and hides,
Lures and derides.
It comes and goes,
Just like the tides.

It conceals vast treasures,
But opens its arms,
To all who would seek them
And sounds no alarms.

Constantly changing.
Extreme to serene.
From wildfire and thunder,
To calm and wonder.

It comes in all shapes
And in many sizes.
Its horizons expansive
And full of surprises.

Even though
Many folks never go
To lands faraway and wild.
It’s good to know
They still exist.
That frontiers yet persist.

Whether you hike into such places
With your body or your mind,
Rejoice in the magic that there you’ll surely find.
As you immerse yourself in its wonder,
Take a moment to relish and ponder.

And don’t try to make it better,
Nature’s working on those tasks.
Just leave it like it is,
That’s all it ever asks.

Continue reading “Wilderness”

Nine Square Feet

A Lot to Focus On

No matter how big the face,
Or how full your plate,
When you climb onto the rock,
A new realm you’ll unlock.

The world suddenly shrinks,
To nine square feet.
Living in the moment,
Is truly a treat.

No worries about what tomorrow will bring,
Cause your future rests solely on what you can cling.
The past is a jumble,
Most problems have gone.
What most concerns you,
Is what to step on.

The cracks are for the hands and feet,
And jams are mostly for arms and fists.
A pocketed face looks mighty good,
And a chimney’s for climbing and not for wood.

While getting to the top may be the goal,
Even the holds within reach could be beyond your control.
If you can’t make the next move,
And are stuck in one place,
The top no longer matters,
And a new goal you’ll then chase.

If you try while you’re climbing to think worldly thoughts,
The vision you conjure may be of knots.
But when you make a move forward and stand up on a nub,
The moment will win,
And you’ll understand then.

Audio Version:

ro k climber ascending a crack system with water below
Climbing a crack
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